Saturday, February 20, 2010


Old cars taken away from my brother’s house are material objects now emptied of their previous significance/use value and are about to become scrap. I wonder if anyone working in the field of material culture is looking at this trajectory of objects and the changing meanings that are involved as stuff becomes trash? Something about the topic reminded me of how the great Russian intellectual Bakhtin used his notes for 'The Novel of Education' as cigarette papers. The tragedy of the story is that this substantial work was lost when the publishing house was bombed. Unknowingly Bakhtin, who was heavy smoker, used his remaining notes in this way. Because of the wartime paper shortage he literally smoked his own greatest work! He began at the back, so that all that remains is the opening section on Goethe.

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